Review & Spoilers : All-New X-Men #31 by Brian Michael Bendis & Mahmud Asrar

All-New X-Men #31 A All-New X-Men #31 B All-New X-Men #31 C

ALL-NEW X-MEN #31 Review & Spoilers

“untitled” (20 pages)

Story by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Mahmud Asrar
Colors by: Marte Gracia and Jason Keith

Letters by: VC’s Cory Petit
Covers by: Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger and Marte Gracia
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Interesting and intriguing interlude!! The first three pages spotlight two very well-known non-mutants: Tony Stark and Amadeus Cho. I thought these two were from Earth-616 but by the third panel I realize these are the Ultimate Universe’s versions!! Quelle surprise! Once again there is a tear in time, a sliver into space, an interdimensional portal that leads to a parallel universe or alternate reality. The two geniuses are examining and analyzing this wondrous phenomenon. Leave it to Tony deciding to just buy the thing since no one else can claim it. Amadeus is a fanboy to the extreme by gushing when Tony offers him the credit of discovering the portal and keeping him on. The witty banter between the two is bar none until Tony is rudely interrupted by the interdimensional gateway imploding. Amadeus is absolutely crushed.

Fast forward (or forward) to Earth-616, present day and place of the main cast. Angel and X-23 head back from their ‘date’. Laura presses Warren to remain a gentleman once they head back to the school. Now, I’ll admit that I don’t read this title so the “Did they?/Didn’t they?” scenario is playing in my head. I get my answer a few pages later. This little interplay got a few chuckles from me — with Laura refusing to call Warren ‘Angel’ and Warren showing disgust at Laura’s mention of her retractable, unbreakable claws. Bobby (Iceman) emits his immaturity by asking Warren to reveal all ‘gory’ details. Jean is less intrusive but more comforting. Laura emphasizes that she’s not some two-bit floozy and Jean reassures her when reading Warren’s mind that he has taken the high road and followed her edict in being a gentleman. The irony of the situation is something that we can all relate to: when someone who sounds too good to be true is actually really good, how do we handle that? None of us are ever really used to someone being 100% nice and this is something that a mutant like Laura who’s always persecuted has to deal with. Jean utters the best line, something that harkens back to the early 80’s when Rogue joined the X-Men — “Welcome to the X-Men…You’re not going to survive the experience. So…” YOLO!!

As stated in the aforementioned paragraph, I don’t follow this book. Hence, I’m not sure as to the identity of the newer members. I did some digging (like any good reporter) and have ascertained almost all of them. There are three more ‘cute’ interludes involving these young-uns. The first is Celeste (one of the Stepford Cuckoos) tells the crew that procreation is the only way to continue the mutant race. She ain’t wrong!! Logical and practical! The second is Beast telling everyone that they should continue their training and studying. Fabio Medina (Goldballs) and Iceman can’t help but think it’s a joke. The third happens on page 9 after Hank uses Cerebro to locate a new mutant. Fabio mentions his desire to marry Jean Grey. Celeste responds that he should marry Nate Grey. She finds it a much funnier reference.

On to the serious stuff!! While Hank is tinkering with Cerebro, the same portal that appeared in the UU materializes. HHHMMM, purposely put plotline! The big ‘swirl’ shows up out of the blue before and shows its own ‘code red’ with a mutant in distress ready to erupt. Jean gives Warren a ‘love smack’ and sarcastically calls him ‘Romeo’ as the time-displaced merry mutants and X-23 race off to help. Enter: the young lady in question – a teenager named Carmen. She is at a photo shoot for either graduation or band when FFWWOOSSHH!! that same-looking swirl centres around her body.

The hits just keep on coming with the humour. Brian Michael Bendis, you are quite the funny-man! (1) Carmen doesn’t recognize acknowledge the younger-looking X-Men and says with the utmost conviction that Angel should be a lot older like in the magazines. He confirms this. (2) Iceman funnily inquires if Carmen’s mutant power is denial. (3) Beast tries to determine the spike in Carmen’s mutancy by pondering about her period. Laura, Jean, and Carmen all reply appropriately. Carmen flat out refuses the X-Men’s offer for aid and just like a wish come true, she rids herself of them. Iceman finds himself in Subterranea surrounded by Mole Man and his Moloids. And to top it all off, the cliffhanger, the big lead-in for next issue — Miles Morales a.k.a. Ultimate Spider-Man swings by and muses about having met Jean. Won’t this be a fun ride?

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this issue. It wasn’t heavily laden in continuity. Thank the stars and garters! (bonus points for identifying that phrase). Despite the little mention of “The Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier”, that is left for the sister title UNCANNY X-MEN. The comedic nature of this issue really warmed me over. Also, there’s no lengthy detailed exposition to introduce Carmen and explain her power. Clear, but concise. Simple but effective.

Mahmud Asrar accentuates faces and highlights facial expressions extremely well. Case in point: Amadeus Cho on page 2, panel 2; X-23 on page 4, panel 3 and page 6, panel 4; Jean on page 6, panel 7; Hank on page 7, panel 5; Carmen on page 11, panels 1, 3, 5, page 12, panel 2, page 14, panel 4, page 15, panel 1, page 16, panels 3 and 7; Jean on page 16, panel 2; Bobby on page 18, panel 1, and lastly Jean again on page 18, panel 4, page 19, panels 3 and 5, and finally page 20. Mahmud draws a super-wicked somewhat intimidating Spidey. I’m tingling with excitement!!! His body work (literally) is proportionate and at times almost animé-esque to bring out the humorous moments.

Marte Gracia and Jason Keith’s colours offer the right combination of nuances, hues, and tones. I can’t tell who did what on every page but they make the entire book aesthetically pleasing. Cory Petit letters lavishly especially with the 3-D effects of the captions.

Cameos:

• Cyclops, Dazzler, Emma Frost, Kitty Pryde, Illyana Rasputina
• Benjamin Deeds, Stepford Cuckoos, Triage
• Heimdall
• Mole Man and his Moloids

Allusion: Iceman makes mention of Little Caesar’s, the pizza franchise.

Glimpse into another world: Avengers/X-Men mash-up fighting various Lord/Lady Deathstrikes.

I give this book 3 X’s in a row. TIC TAC TOE! [8.5/10]

Tic Tac Toe

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